Co-owners Steve Thomas, Brian Fulton, and Jimmy Davis established the Cherokee Institute of Performing Arts (CIPA) - at The Gathering Place, to promote the Arts and to instruct and support those who possess the rare gift of interest in the Arts combined with the potential to be a performing artist. Steve, Brian and Jimmy knew that declining budgets of community schools - along with increasing expenses, were forcing administrators to eliminate programs in schools that had the fewest number of participants; and that the first to go were usually the Arts programs.
The owners founded CIPA with the hope that it would fill the gap in public education by receiving support from the community, and by providing instructional facilities at little or no cost to instructors.
The owners identified space for three music instructor rooms in the basement of The Gathering Place, and began construction of the rooms some months ago. The cost of overall building renovation required a considerable amount of time and money. Benefit concerts by local musicians, and donations of time and money from friends and family, helped pay for the work on the music instruction rooms and helped create an atmosphere of musical education in Cherokee.